Did someone say to you 'cut to the chase' and you’re wondering what it means? In this article, we’ll take a look at the meaning, origin, examples, and more.
'Cut to the chase' is an idiom that means to state something directly or get right to the point.
If you've ever had a conversation with someone that seemed to drag on and on, you have likely wished that the speaker would 'cut to the chase.' Rather than just saying what they mean plainly and simply, they surround the main point with unnecessary details.
Though this is a common idiom, it's worth noting that it can come off as rude to ask someone to 'cut to the chase.' As with most phrases, whether or not it is offensive to use the expression has to do with the context. You can certainly ask someone to 'cut to the chase' or state that it's time to 'cut to the chase' in a way that isn't hurtful, but it's worth being aware of your tone and the particular circumstance.
This idiom actually originates from the American film industry during the silent film era. Though it is said that Hal Roach Sr. coined the term, who was active in the film industry throughout much of the 20th century, a similar phrase appears in Chaucher's "The Wife of Bath's Tale" in the following phrase:
"...and shortly forth this tale for to chace"
Early American films often reached their climax in the form of chase scenes. This was particularly true of comedies.
Amateur or inexperienced directors and screenwriters would sometimes include far too much unnecessary dialogue as the plot built up. This left audiences feeling bored and created a scenario where too much time passed before the most exciting part of the film occurred-- the chase scene.
Movie studio executives would use the phrase 'cut to the chase' in order to imply that extra, unnecessary dialogue shouldn't be included as it would bore the audience. Instead of prolonging the build-up, the film should move on to the more interesting scenes more quickly.
There was an even earlier version of this idiom in the form of 'cut to Hecuba.' This is a reference to the play Hamlet.
Hecuba is a figure in Greek mythology. During the Trojan War, she was the wife of King Priam and Queen of Troy. In William Shakespeare's play Hamlet, the protagonist is marveling at the performance of an actor who was playing Hecuba. Here is the line that he spoke after seeing the convincing grief the actor portrayed in witnessing the death of Priam:
"What's Hecuba to him, or he to Hecuba, / That he should weep for her?"
The implication is that Hamlet is criticizing himself for not grieving authentically when his own father dies.
How would 'cut to the chase' be used in a sentence? Let’s take a look at some examples:
What are some other words and phrases that have a similar meaning to 'cut to the chase'?
Here are some options:
'Cut to the chase' is an idiom that means to stop beating around the bush and get right to the point. Rather than couching a statement in a bunch of unnecessary details, a person who 'cuts to the chase' doesn't waste time and gets right to the most important information.
Are you ready to learn more English phrases and expand your vocabulary? Be sure to check out our idioms blog for idioms, expressions, sayings, and more!
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